News & Trends - Biotechnology

Seqirus launches Australian-first influenza vaccine

Health Industry Hub | March 22, 2021 |
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A novel, Australian-first flu vaccine technology will be available in 2021, with Seqirus, a CSL company, announcing availability of its new cell-based seasonal influenza vaccine, FLUCELVAX QUAD (quadrivalent influenza vaccine).

The four-strain vaccine is the first cell-based influenza vaccine available in Australia, approved by the TGA for use in adults and children nine years of age and older.

Cell-based technology is one of the most significant changes in the development of influenza vaccines for 70 years – a transition away from traditional manufacturing methods which have largely stayed the same since the 1930s.

Ahead of each flu season, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued recommendations on which specific influenza strains should be included in the vaccines, based on which strains are predicted to be most problematic. How closely vaccines match these strains is one of the factors impacting vaccine effectiveness.

The production of Flucelvax Quad using cell-based technology results in a close match to the WHO-selected strains.

Pediatrician Professor Robert Booy said it was exciting to see the arrival of a cell-based influenza vaccine in Australia for the first time.

“With Flucelvax in use overseas for almost a decade, it’s great to see the technology now available in Australia. This offers an additional option to health care providers and consumers and will be an important tool in the fight against influenza for many years to come,” said Prof Booy.

Dr Jonathan Anderson, Seqirus Head of Medical Affairs Asia Pacific, said that while high-rates of vaccination and social distancing had driven down influenza rates last season, we can’t be complacent about the potential impacts of flu.

“Achieving high flu vaccination coverage was a key population health strategy for helping to reduce pressure on our hospitals and health care system as we faced COVID-19. This is expected to be just as important this year, and the introduction of a new flu vaccine will be timely to give patients and health care professionals additional options.

“Seqirus is committed to continuous innovation in influenza prevention, and we are pleased to be able to provide a new vaccine option in Flucelvax Quad to Australians in a season when we know flu vaccination will be so important.”

Availability of Flucelvax Quad in Australia comes off the back of Seqirus’ $800 million investment in a world-class cell-based influenza vaccine manufacturing facility in Australia – to be located in Melbourne. This means that in future years, Flucelvax Quad will be manufactured in Australia.

Flucelvax Quad will be available for purchase via GP clinics, pharmacies and other immunisation providers – it will not be funded on the National Immunisation Program in 2021.

Official advice from the Federal Department of Health is that all Australians from 6 months of age should be vaccinated against influenza, with the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation advising a 14-day window between currently available COVID-19 and influenza vaccines is preferable.

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